Reflections on teaching Design History, Year Three.

I teach a class covering Design History at the SVA MFA Interaction Design Program. This is my third year teaching it, and I thought I’d try to recap what I learned and put down some ideas for next year.

  • I tried to incorporate some of my thoughts from last year, especially structuring the class thematically and pulling back from a strictly linear approach. I think this was pretty successful and I intend to refine this again this year. The students responded to the themes, I think perhaps because it gave them a more obvious and useful framework to apply their learnings to.

  • The composition of each class varies widely, and this class was no difference. I found the mix of students to be a little more optimistic and engaged with the subject matter than years past, but that could have been an artifact of my next observation.

  • I think I’ve made a lot of headway trying to be more inclusive of female and non-Western designers, but admittedly I ran out of time prepping for the course. I plan to make use of several sources that cover design history outside of North America and Europe, but the material is a bit thin for the early years.

  • I’ve changed up the reading/homework assignments to include more varied media, and I’ve also included more in the lectures. In an amazing turn of events, several (well all, in their own ways) of the student reading groups put a lot of work into recapping readings using really engaging methods such as quizzes and an almost game-show format. I plan on using this an an example for next class.

  • This is the first time I’ve taught the class at the beginning of a semester (its a half-semester course, and the last couple of times I started mid-semester), and I feel like it made a huge difference in how students approached the subject.